Erin Davis: Welcome to REAL TIME, the podcast for and about Canadian REALTORS®, brought to you by the Canadian Real Estate Association. I’m your host, Erin Davis and what a pleasure it is to bring you today’s 17th episode. See, we’re bringing the generations together all in one place, exploring just how different and how alike Canadian buyers and sellers of all ages really are, as we all navigate and redefine the real estate landscape. Shifts in real estate are often cyclical. As one generation moves into retirement, the next takes its place as the primary market contributor or at least, that used to go without saying.
Today, with economic swings, new technologies, the pandemic and other contributing factors, it seems multiple generations are vying for the same opportunities, though, perhaps for different reasons. Today on REAL TIME, we’re opening up the floor and the lines of communication among four highly accomplished REALTORS®, each of whom represents a different generation themselves, Gen Z, Millennials or Gen Y, Gen X and Boomers. Let’s start with Gen Z, defined as anyone aged six to 24 and represented here today by Austin Titus from London, Ontario. He is a broker awarded top 30 Under 30 in 2019 and 2020.
From Gen X, which spans ages 41 to 56, a high-profile Toronto area REALTOR® and investor who’s ranked in the top eight in sales volume and transactions completed in 2020, plus 13th for sales among her companie’s agents to Davelle Morrison.
In your experience, both of you, what differentiates younger buyers, Gen Z, for example, from the generation of buyers like Gen X, Davelle?
Davelle Morrison: I think the main thing is that because they are older, and they have been earning more income that they are more established in the market. Most of them are not first-time home buyers. They’re move-up buyers, so they’re looking at their second place or their third place or in some cases, they’re looking for an investment property or they’re looking for a cottage property. I think that’s the biggest difference. My Gen Z people, of course, because of their age, it’s their first purchase ever, that’s what they’re looking to do.
Erin: Who are you finding, Austin, Gen Z, what are they looking for, primarily?
Austin Titus: Gen Z is pretty much looking for that starter property rate. They’re looking to get into the market, develop themselves and potentially move on in the future. I’ve been finding a lot of people in that Gen Z bracket are more leaning towards the condo’s market, townhouses, what’s more affordable out there that they can get into, as well as potentially outside of the urban markets. They might be looking more towards, for example, one that I’m in right now or even outside of that area.
Erin: Let’s look at what all of this knowledge that we are able to glean online has done for Gen Xers and Gen Zs, in terms of what they come to you already knowing. Davelle, do you find that Gen Z, the ones that you have dealt with, have a good understanding of the market and perhaps, more than previous generations? What’s your take on Gen Z in this case?
Davelle: I think because of the Internet and because everybody can Google, I think that when Gen Z comes to you, they are definitely a little bit more educated. I also host online webinars for my clients to help them become more educated in the first-time homebuyer process. Absolutely, there’s definitely always questions. In a lot of the cases, Gen Z has a parent in tow as well, so the parent is there, guiding them as well, but the other challenge sometimes is that the parents’ expectations of what their child can get in a condo are unrealistic because they’re basing it on when they were young and when they bought something and that’s not the case.
A lot of the times, you’ve got a parent in tow who’s most likely co-signing or helping with a down payment. They are part of the decision-making program as well too. Whether it’s having that parent tag along on a home inspection or a second visit, but they are usually a significant part of the equation. In fact, back in the day pre-COVID, when we could do open houses, I would usually recommend to my clients after they’d seen a house with me or a condo with me that they like, I would suggest to them, “Go back on the weekends with your parents at the open house and take another look,” because I know that the parents are a significant factor in the decision-making.
Erin: Austin, you’ve described yourself at times as one of the REALTORS® who has to play dream crusher. It’s not as much fun as Candy Crush either, but when it comes to Gen Z, can you explain that and how do you go about doing that, gently, realistically?
Austin: Absolutely. I think it really starts with going through that pre-approval process and having clients to understand exactly what they’re able to afford out there. After that, we go through the consultation and we really look down and see, “Okay, here’s your idea of what you are looking for in a property, but what does that actually get you in today’s market? We’re going to have everyone that’s painting the dream for you and what you’re hoping to get, but when it comes down to it, what does that look like?” What our role has been becoming is essentially that, exactly what you said, a dream crusher. Where we’re now sitting down and saying, “Yes, what you had aimed for last year and what you can afford this year are very different things.”
It’s our job now to also paint that picture and make it a good one for these people to say, “Look, you might not be getting the pool and the five-bedroom home and the double-car garage, but you are going to be getting something that is going to allow you to get to that place of financial freedom and get into the dream home in the future.”
Erin: That’s fantastic. Let’s talk about Gen Z and Gen X, in terms of what is driving their real estate decisions? Is there anything that stands out to you, that we haven’t already discussed?
Davelle: I would just say lifestyle. I think that when people, they live in a certain space and then all of a sudden they realize they’re tired of the space or they’re tired of the neighbourhood and then all of a sudden they want a bigger space. I would say that that really tends to drive decision-making and also family lifestyle. For some people, they’re single, but now they’re coupled, so now they need a bigger space. For some other people, they’re coupled and now they’re expecting a child, so now they need a bigger space. For others, it’s they’re coupled, they’ve got one child, but now they’re expecting another child, so now they need more space.
I had one couple that I worked with last year, they were pregnant and needed more space for two children. One of the things that she said to me was during COVID, all the playgrounds were locked down and she couldn’t use them for her child. She said, “I now need to make sure I have a backyard, so that if the playgrounds get locked down again, my child can play in the yard.” I think it’s really interesting that COVID is taking decisions, I think that what people would have needed five years to decide, it’s making them make those decisions very quickly.
Erin: Isn’t that interesting, that things we took for granted, right?
Erin: Wow. Let’s talk money here. Davelle, you have said that there is no longer any stigma, in fact, it’s almost the norm for your clients to be with the bank of mommy and daddy, at least that’s what we used to call it in our house, that asking your parents to be the lifeline is so much more the norm?
Davelle: Yes, absolutely. I would say that it’s definitely a standard thing. People pick up the phone and call bank of mom and dad. It seems like dad’s the lifeline. Let me see if I can get more money. I don’t care what age my clients are, whether they’re 20-something, 30, 40-something or 50-something, everybody’s relying on their parents. I think back to when Gen X purchased real estate, a lot of us got help from our parents, to begin with. There’s really no shame in asking your parents for money. There’s nothing wrong with your parents giving you money if they have it, of course. I realized that not everybody has that luck, where they’ve got parents who are willing to give or can give.
I think for a lot of parents, they would rather see their kids enjoy that money now, while they’re still alive, versus waiting until their kids or whatever it is, 70 or 80 to give them money. I think there’s that transfer of wealth that’s happening now for parents and I think that’s a good thing. Why not?
Erin: Austin, Gen Z is optimistic about home ownership. According to a 2019 survey, 10% of Canadians aged 18 to 24 said they already own their own home and one in three said they’re going to buy within the next five years. Does that surprise you?
Austin: You know what, when I saw that stat, I actually was a little bit surprised. I expect there’s quite a few people that own a home when they’re in that 18 to 24 range and a lot of the factors have to come down to the fact that they are in school. There’s a lot of movement in that age, there’s a lot of relationships, school, all of that contributing to the fact that, “Hey, look, do I want to rent or do I really want to buy at this moment?”
I’d be very interested to know which portion of that might be actually investment, versus actual single-family ownership because it’d be very interesting to see what the demographics there are. The fact that they’re looking to buy in the next five years, one in three people, that doesn’t surprise me because, at that point in your life, we’re in that category of, “Hey, look, we know where a job is heading. We know maybe where we want to be in the next five to 10 years,” maybe families starting up. That doesn’t surprise me by any means, that people are looking to buy next couple of years.
Erin: We’ll be back with Austin Titus and Davelle Morrison of London and Toronto, Ontario, respectively in just a moment on REAL TIME, as we explore connections between Gen X and Gen Z and beyond.
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Now, let’s rejoin Davelle Morrison our gen Xpert and Austin Titus, our Gen Zenius talking tech on REAL TIME and don’t forget spotlight on Millennials and Boomers still to come on REAL TIME.
During the pandemic, one thing we’ve really focused on is the importance of maintaining connections with family and friends, ourselves, our communities, but the connection that we all got a really big lesson on in the past year and a half has been, of course, the tech connections. In terms of your marketing and getting your message out, what you’re trying to convey to various clients, do you use kind of a scattershot approach or are you laser-focused. If you are aiming at Gen Z, then you’re going to use TikTok or Twitter or whatever. Then if you’re perhaps Gen X, you’re going to go with Instagram and Facebook. Do you laser focus? Is it like a radio advertiser for a luxury car saying, “Okay, I’m not going to be on the teenagers station. They can’t afford our vehicles, but I’m going to aim here where the demographic is of the financial means that we’re aiming for.” What do you do, and I’ll start with you Austin?
Austin: I would say that when you’re looking at advertising, or listing or advertising your services, the more spread that you can get the better. I know that they say, “Narrow down your focus a little bit,” but even if, for example, you’re going to advertise on something like TikTok, you might be having people that are on TikTok that are a little bit more of a seasoned person like we like to say, instead of the Gen X, but they are able to go against the grain and have different platforms available to every single person.
The more that we’re able to market to the crowd and just get the exposure out there and connect with people is what I’m all about. I do have my focuses; I would say I’m not really huge on TikTok right now, but I would say I’m huge on Instagram. I like to focus my relationships that way, but I would definitely say that we’re targeting all aspects of the market and adapting to how it’s coming along.
Davelle: I would say for myself, it does depend on the listing because what we’ll do is we’ll segment a certain demographic that we’re looking to connect with over Instagram and Facebook. We’re doing some additional advertising on LinkedIn as well too, depending on the property, but we usually take our advertising from Facebook and Instagram and segment that particular demographic that we think is going to be the most appropriate, depending on the listing that we’ve got coming out. Then right now, I’m just playing with TikTok just to get familiar with it. I will certainly go on TikTok, record something and then I’ll use that TikTok video and actually post it on Instagram, as well as Facebook as well.
Erin: We’ve talked about Gen Xers likely mid-career with families, peak income, earning years and also the first generation really to prioritize work-life balance, having witnessed the grind of what parents and grandparents have gone through. Are we seeing any trends now emerging among this group, like having that rental property in the city and owning the place up on the lake or in the trees or something like that or even multi-generational living due to aging parents? What are you witnessing, Davelle?
Davelle: It’s funny. I haven’t seen the multi-generational living yet, only because I find with Gen Xers, their parents are still fairly young. I guess young is a subjective term, but I would say a lot of the parents could be in their 70s, maybe 80s, but they’re all pretty agile and they’re not looking to downsize at all. In terms of they’re looking for cottage properties or looking for investment properties or they’re looking to do mega renovations on the existing property where they live or put in a swimming pool. It is about enhancing their living space, wherever that is. That’s definitely something that I’ve noticed, but it’s more enhance the current living space or get a cottage, if you don’t have a cottage or start thinking about retirement, hence the fact that you need to have an investment property. People are looking at all of those different things.
Erin: Austin, are you finding that your Gen Z buyers are looking that far down the road or is it just a matter of let’s live here, see what happens with our family, if that’s going to grow, or if this is an investment? Through what prism are Gen Z is buying their properties?
Austin: I would say a lot of the Gen Zs are looking more towards their first properties at this point. I haven’t really heard of too many Gen Zs actually going out and pursuing a vacation property, unless they’re one of the top tier Gen Z, but I have not run into that. I would say a lot of them are looking into a single family or investment. They might be renting outside of the city right now and they might be just looking somewhere to buy. We haven’t really come past that where people are looking to actually have a space outside of their current home to be in and be able to vacation in.
Airbnb might be another option that people are looking at doing, especially along the North-end of Ontario, where you’re able to maybe rent it out, generate some extra income, but again, that would be more along the investment side of things, more than an actual vacation home.
Davelle: I would also just add though, that I have seen some young people say, “Okay, you know what? I can’t afford to buy a home in Toronto. Instead, what I’m going to do is buy a cottage instead.” I have seen the case of some young people saying, “Hey, you know what? Let me get that cottage now, and then I’ll just continue to rent in Toronto.” There is a bit of people trying to do things a little bit differently, so that they could just get a property somewhere.
Austin: Davelle, I don’t know if you’ve dealt with that as well, but had you noticed they’ve maybe gone along the path of renting it out or doing a vacation sort of rental that way?
Davelle: Yes, absolutely. I think that that’s how people are making their vacation properties more affordable for themselves is to Airbnb it for part of the time and use it for part of the time. I have a couple of properties in Prince Edward County and I do see that some of the other owners of Airbnb type properties in Prince Edward County, they are all ages, but I’m actually surprised by how many young people are doing it. They are doing it, so that they can have a place to stay, but then they also rent it out. They can have the best of both worlds. Have somebody else pay and cover your bills and then also give you a place to stay when it’s available.
Erin: Sounds like there’s so much wisdom out there among the generations. Let’s get your opinion on what REALTORS® can learn from their multi-generational peers, Austin?
Austin: In any generation I would say that it’s all about adapting. It’s making sure you’re staying up with the times. I would say to Generation X, keep a hold of what you have loved doing for this entire career. If you love that personal connection that you’re able to do, whether that be meeting with clients or having a coffee with them, continue to do that. I do find that even though we are a younger generation and Generation Z, that doesn’t mean that we don’t love that personal connection to be able to sit down and actually chat with someone.
I would say keep a hold of what you love, but also be able to adapt and make sure that you’re up to the times and staying ahead of technology, being able to do things like Authentisign and like DocuSign out there, and just make sure that you’re always staying on top of that.
Erin: Davelle, what piece of advice would you give a REALTOR® from a younger generation?
Davelle: I think it’s the same thing with all ages, is that be able to adapt to whatever it is your client finds easier to communicate. You’ve got some clients that only will do email or only do text, but then I’ve also had some clients say they want to do phone. They don’t have a cell phone, so you can’t text them. I’ve had a client recently that didn’t even have a computer. I simply had to make sure I printed things out in colour and then I left them in her mailbox for her so that she could review them. You just really have to be adaptable to a lot of different people.
It’s funny. I think I’ve become so extreme now. I’m like, “I hate talking on the phone.” It’s one of those things where when I get that client who is obviously much better and wants to talk on the phone, I’m like, “Okay, I’ve got to do this.” It is tricky. You just have to adapt to whatever that client’s preferential way of communicating is.
Erin: We’ll hear more from Davelle and Austin again, before we all wrap up here together, but next, we’re moving on here on REAL TIME, up the demographic scale.
Just before we do, whether it’s a half-caf soy latte or just that perfect high-power espresso, why not get a serving of inspiration on the side at CREA Cafe. It’s a cozy place for REALTORS® to connect, share thoughts and, of course, stay up-to-date on the latest industry happenings over a virtual cup of whatever keeps you going. Join the conversation @CREACafe.ca.
All right. We’ve heard from our Gen Z and Gen X reps. We move on now to Millennials represented here by Tanya Eklund of Calgary, Alberta, multi award-winning leader and managing partner of her company’s top performing office worldwide. From the baby boomer side of things, it’s Rob Marland, Olympic rowing champ, motivator and leading REALTOR® in the national capital region. We’ve got Tanya, Millennials today falling anywhere from the ages of 25 to 40 and of course, Rob with the Baby Boomers, 57 to 75. Welcome and congratulations on being spokespeople for an entire demographic here today. No intimidation, no intimidation at all.
In your experience, what differentiates a younger buyer like a millennial from an older buyer, like a baby boomer? What is each group looking for in a property, driving their real estate decisions and their values? Rob, what do you think for the Boomers perspective here?
Rob Marland: What we see with our client base is that they are looking for livability and lifestyle, walking, a village location in here in the nation’s capital, all of the amenities that make them not have to use their car, that’s the big driver that we see.
Erin: Didn’t, Rob, though, people think that initially Baby Boomers would want to buy a condo or downsize like that, but it’s turning out that that idea has been turned on its head because Boomers want more of a front porch. They want to see people going by and maybe wave and doing more of the old fashioned, if we will, neighbouring.
Rob: I find this more often than not now that people crave connection. They had a large house or a country property with four or five bedrooms and they had a great time raising their family there, but now they want to not sit inside that big house and have the neighbours drive into their garage and close the door. They want to sit on the front porch and have people walk by and engage and actually be curious.
We’re actually finding the condo market is alive and well, but we’re finding that we have a lot of Baby Boomers that are buying old, I’m not going to say rundown, but historic houses. Houses that would be not typically the profile before, because they crave that environment.
Erin: Tanya, what are you finding in terms of Millennials and values and what they’re looking for in a property and what is driving their real estate decisions?
Tanya Eklund: Like most parts of Canada, we’re also seeing a boom here, especially in the last 90 days. The Millennials are more driven by lifestyle and affordability and the Baby Boomers are more driven by functionality and lifestyle. I deal with both categories as does my team. The younger purchaser really wants to feel like they have made a good investment. They are younger buyers making big decisions, they want to independence but yet they are on a budget. That may mean that they can’t live urban to get what they want, where some are prepared to sacrifice space to have a lifestyle that they want.
The Baby Boomers that I’m working with too really, they’re buying two types. I have people that are moving out of the city, but still want a home in Calgary and they are downsizing. Then I have Baby Boomers who have raised their children in the same house for 30 years and it’s about them and they want something that suits their needs in their lifestyle today. Many of my Baby Boomers are going bigger, not smaller. They’re getting their dream home because their kids are gone and they don’t need to be in a school district anymore, that they had been for 20 years.
Erin: Oh, interesting. You’ve also pointed out to us that Baby Boomers are quicker to make decisions. They usually have a handful of communities they know where they want to be. How does that differ from the younger, perhaps, millennial buyer?
Tanya: I work with mostly Baby Boomers while my two other agents work with the Millennials. The Baby Boomers that I work with give me two, three, maybe, four communities, all bunched together. They have a very specific price range. They have very specific criteria and they may only look at 5, 6, 7 homes before they purchase.
Katie and Koby on my team work with the millennial and they want to see all of the options available to them in multiple communities because they’re not tied to a community, they’re not in school, they may not need to work downtown, they don’t have to really worry as much as what’s around them and can find that lifestyle in many parts of Calgary because we’re so sprawled out as a city. Very different types of needs.
Millennials, you really have to have patience, where they want to ask questions, they want to be educated, they want to do it themselves, even though sometimes they may have parents in the background helping them solidify their decision, maybe helping them with some funding. The Baby Boomers, I find are very quick to make decisions and they know what they want.
Erin: Do you experience that as well Rob?
Rob: Yes. What is really interesting with the Baby Boomers is they have confidence in real estate. They’ve benefited from what the Millennials are envious of, the growth of their wealth through real estate. They are not holding back on budget, as much as they would have when they had young kids and mortgage payments and thinking about daycare and all that stuff. We’re seeing Baby Boomers making, as it’s been said, lifestyle decisions and also living their lives. We’re seeing Baby Boomers that are buying recreational properties for the first time and still want to having that urban address. The urban address for them is really important because they want to have that walkability factor.
We see a big push that way. The decisions that are being made by Baby Boomers is pretty quick. They see what they like, they’re going to make the decision. As far as value goes, where a millennial might want to have a spreadsheet and do the analysis, the Boomers like, “This feels right, let’s just do this.”
Erin: We often hear that many Millennials won’t buy a home either because they can’t afford it or they just aren’t ready to settle down, but there was a survey this year that showed that nearly half of all Canadians aged 25 to 35 own a home. Is this true of what you’re seeing in the market? I’ll start with you, Tanya.
Tanya: Absolutely. We have so many young people purchasing. As early as 2021, now at that age, they do have parental involvement. Their parents are coming along to the showings, but yes, absolutely. We’re seeing a younger generation purchase.
When I was 23, I purchased my first home and throughout my career, I have actually worked with a lot of younger people purchasing. They want to, again, feel that independence. They want to start growing their wealth. We have a very entrepreneurial city in Calgary. I do believe that Calgary, we have parents that really want to help their kids out at a young age. They don’t just want to say, “Here’s a $450,000 condo and it’s yours.” They want to teach their kids almost some entrepreneurship and the process and saving for a down payment and, “We’ll help you, but you are still doing this.” Yes, definitely younger buyers.
Erin: What you’re saying really resonates with what we heard from Davelle and from Austin as well. It’s that the parents are still so often involved, but you’re adding that extra element, Tanya, where it’s part of the parenting process, not just to say, “Here, sweetie, here’s some money, build your nest,” but, “I’m going to show you how to build a nest. I’m going to give you some of the ingredients to do it, but you’re going to learn to do this, your spending plans and how much you can afford,” and that sort of thing. It really is still, if this is possible for your parents to do it for you, then it still is part of the parenting and education process. I think that that’s a really fascinating thing to see.
Rob, you’re in a city in an area that is quite different from Calgary and then Ottawa has such a solid base. You’ve got a lot of federal employees and employers, how does that change the whole perspective, in terms of real estate and the way that people approach it in a city that’s like that?
Rob: Very simple question to ask. Ottawa is an awesome city for many reasons. Real estate, it’s a simple thing. When is it not been a good idea to own real estate in Ottawa? Our market has never seen any major implications to value. Most people, if they have, speaking about the millennial crowd, if they have parents that are influences, whether they’re actually contributing or just guiding, are recommending that owning makes a lot of sense.
One thing that’s amazing about our local economy, which is incredibly vibrant. We have the federal government, yes, but we have some unbelievable tech companies that have created wealth and opportunities for thousands and thousands of people and really, we’re very fortunate for it. As a result, our rental market, for somebody to move out of the parental home and go and rent an apartment, is not inexpensive in Ottawa. Therefore, with this unbelievable uniquely opportunity of low interest rates, they’re looking at their earning power, the cost of borrowing money and the chance to step into the market to start laddering up, it’s brilliant. That’s why we see the Millennials actually making this move and making it happen.
Erin: Let’s talk about the whole perspective of pandemic here too. A quarter of the millennial homeowners that I mentioned in that survey, purchased during the pandemic. Rob first, why do you think that is?
Rob: I think what became very clear during this current environment has been the importance of home. In Canada, we’re so very lucky to be able to actually have ownership of a property that’s not complicated. People identify with who they are by where they live, in certain circumstances. Also, what’s really important to think about is the work from home environment, especially if there’s two people, it’s important to have the space that supports that because that’s their livelihood.
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Now, back with Rob Marland and Tanya Eklund to look a little more deeply into the Millennials and baby boomer head space and more to the point recreational space and the lives they’re choosing to imagine for the decades ahead.
Baby Boomers are often referred to as an untapped market because of their surprise spending power. How active are Baby Boomers in the market right now, if you’re looking at who’s making all the calls and just who is pushing this surge that’s been happening or is it right across the board? Tanya, what’s your take on it?
Tanya: Very active Baby Boomers. Being in this business for over 20 years, I don’t think they’ve ever been so active. It’s great to see that they want to change or they’re getting a vacation home somewhere else and they want to downsize from their large home. We’re also moving a lot of people are retiring out to British Columbia, so still staying within our beautiful country but they don’t need to be in a city. They want, a very relaxed lifestyle. They want to golf every day. They want the water and so they’re selling their large homes here and sometimes keeping a home still to be close to the kids in Calgary, but also going out to being retired. Very active market with the Baby Boomers here, the most active I’ve ever seen.
Erin: Wow. Rob, how about from your perspective?
Rob: I think the Baby Boomers are definitely active. In the ’90s when I started in real estate, things were a little different, a little bit slower, you could say. Once the market started taking off in Ottawa, which is around 2000, we’ve really seen constant growth. One of the factors which is a real effect of this pandemic time, would be the importance of family. One thing that we see with a Baby Boomers, is because kids maybe came to Ottawa for education and career, we’re seeing parents are leaving their city where they lived at our time to move to Ottawa to be that multi-generational family. We’ve actually had a real surge of new buyers to the market in Ottawa from out of province and out of country, actually.
Erin: Are Baby Boomers and Millennials, Tanya, competing for many of the same properties in your experience?
Tanya: We see a little bit of an overlap here but generally, no. It’s really driven by price point. The Baby Boomers that I’ve been working with, even if they’re downsizing, their downsized purchase here is still more of a luxury product. Instead of having a 5,000 or 3000 square foot house, they’re getting a luxury condo that is very urban, walk to everything. Whereas the millennial that’s entering the market, they can’t afford that luxury condo. They’re getting a more entry level condo in that two 250 to 450 range. I would say typically here there is not a lot of overlap in purchases, maybe the odd time, but I would say 90% of the time, they’re very different price points.
Erin: Speaking of price points, who would you say has the financial leg up on other buyers then, at this time, starting with you, Tanya?
Tanya: Definitely the Baby Boomers, they’ve been usually much more conservative over the years. Most of the Baby Boomers that I deal with have no debt on their home at all. They’ve sold companies, they have a pension, they got a package, if they were laid off. Really, they have a lot more liquidity than that buyer that’s a millennial that’s just starting out.
Erin: Rob, you’ve seen a lot of clients that you’ve worked with, who’ve pensioned out in their late fifties, who’ve owned real estate and have disposable income. Are you seeing them as the ones who have the financial leg up on other buyers or what’s your experience on who’s rising to the top, in terms of opportunity?
Rob: Definitely, in the Baby Boomer market, two working professionals if they are in a situation where they retire with a pension, they’ve put in great service and they get the reward of it and they have unbelievable buying power, which is amazing, but let’s give full credit to the Millennials, that chose to start a career. If it’s a couple, both individuals working, saved for a down payment and realize that buying and using their down payment and having such historically low interest rates, because you could ask a baby boomer about a 19% mortgage and they’d all go, “Yeah, we had that in the ’80s.” Now to get mortgages at such an affordable level.
I really shout out to the Millennials because I really respect the Millennials that are doing this on their own without parental involvement, without the guidance if you will, or the financial backing. I actually think that the Millennials really rocking the market. I think the Baby Boomers definitely stroke the check because they’re basically buying finance free, but the Millennials are definitely vibrant in our marketplace.
Erin: Baby Boomers and some Gen Xers, as we heard with Austin and Davelle, are also often characterized as technophobic, hesitant to embrace new technologies. It turns out that there are similarities and how are you finding, we’ll start with you Rob, and the whole tech innovation, the whole wave that we’ve seen, even over, let’s say, the past decade?
Rob: I joke because with a smartphone you can do everything from order a coffee, order a meal, buy a house, control the temperature in your house and oh, did we say buy a house? Yes. As you know, on your phone, you can sign a $2 million deal without even blinking, it just is that easy. Actually, it’s interesting because the smartphone in the Baby Boomers hands has enabled them to be able to be independent in making decisions and acting when and wherever they are, which has been pretty important given this past year.
Erin: Absolutely. Let’s get your opinion on what REALTORS® can learn from their multi-generational peers, because we’ve had such a good time doing the Gen X, Gen Z, Millennials, Boomers here today. Rob, what piece of advice would you give to a REALTOR® and a younger generation?
Rob: The REALTORS® that work on my team are young. They’d fall into your Millennial category. What we are diligent about with them is making sure that they have market knowledge. Market knowledge is not just coming in from a computer screen, and it’s not just chit-chat. It’s actually understanding the factors that are out there.
The second piece of it is making sure that they make connections with people because if we do not maintain our professionalism, our market knowledge, our negotiating skills and our standards at a high level, this will just become a transactional business, which would be disappointing for the people whose lives we’re affecting by buying and selling properties for them.
Erin: Your perspective on this, Tanya. What piece of advice would you give a REALTOR® from an older generation?
Tanya: Again, I think it goes back to technology. I had a discussion with a gentleman a number of months ago and it’s serendipitous, the timing of this podcast. He had come to me and he had been in real estate for over 30 years and he said, “Tanya, I can’t compete with all of these young REALTORS®. They’re paying for lead generation and they have Instagram accounts and Facebook.” He said, “I don’t want to do that.” I said, “Well, why don’t you try to partner with someone that’s a bit younger?” This was a long time ago.
This morning, coincidentally, he sends me a text and he says, I’ve partnered with such and such who is a lot younger than he is. He said, “We have been so busy that we are looking to bring on an assistant and I want to talk to you about what that looks like.”
Tanya: I was so elated that worked out for him. Now, they an Instagram page together, they have Facebook and I looked at it and I just think it’s so amazing because this younger person has brought this older person a whole new perspective and realm of getting business and staying in touch. They’re benefiting from each other. The Millennial is benefiting from the baby boomer with the wisdom of the industry and the Baby Boomer is benefiting from the millennial from the technology and the fresh perspective. It was just such a beautiful unity between the two.
Erin: That is marvelous and it ties in with some of Rob’s philosophy here, always be learning, too.
Rob: I think that as REALTORS®, we support each other and by doing that, asking questions and willing to learn from each other, we’re a stronger profession, for sure.
Tanya: Yes, absolutely.
Erin: On such a positive note, as we wrap up here today and we are going to be hearing from Davelle and Austin as well. Let me ask you how you would like to see the rest of 2021 play out. We’ll start with you, Rob.
Rob: Oh, the year is going to wrap up awesome in Ottawa. Honestly, in the spring time, one of the most exciting things that happens here is actually fill the canal back up with water, which if you don’t live in Ottawa, you might go, “What is that about?” Oh, we have this thing called winter and it’s a skating rink. The way I’d like to see the year end is it be vibrant and everybody have the opportunity to be outside and do the things they love and also, for the businesses that have had challenges over the past year, for them to be embraced and supported in a way that everybody needs it to be.
In looking towards the rest of this year in Ottawa, one of the things that we find really interesting about this market is we find that people were shut out in the market because it’s so hyper competitive. Where we see the market going and this is really good news, especially for the Millennials, is that the market’s going to open up for them and maybe move to a more balanced market, which means that there’s lots of opportunity. That backed by our awesome city, it’s nothing but a good story here in the nation’s capital.
Erin: Wonderful. Tanya, how would you like to look back at 2021?
Tanya: If I didn’t love my city so much, Rob’s pitch about Ottawa, I’d be on a flight there, moving there. Good job, Rob, but I love my city. Things for the rest of the year here in Calgary, I am very optimistic about, we opened up July 5th, we have Calgary Stampede. It may look a little bit different this year. Our city is really hustling right now, energy, oils, trading in the ’70s, which is amazing and they expect it to even see the ’80s.
We have a lot of tech moving to Calgary. A lot of companies are seeing the quality of life in Calgary. We’re close to the mountains. We have not only affordable residential real estate, but really affordable office leasing here. They’re looking at it as a great opportunity for their startups. Yes, even though I said our market is slowing down a bit, it’s easier to purchase a home than it was 60 days ago. You don’t have to buy it in an hour, but I still really foresee a really strong market in real estate in Calgary for the rest of the year.
Erin: Austin, how are you hoping to describe 2021 when the year is in the books?
Austin: I reall…